Misdiagnosis of ADHD and ADD in Children
A study by Todd Elder of Michigan State University is revealing
that the youngest kids in their grade level may be more likely to be
diagnosed as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than the
older kids of the same grade level. The study found 60% of the younger
kids were more likely to be labeled as ADHD, which means almost one
million U.S children could right now be misdiagnosed with the disorder.
How Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Symptoms are Diagnosed
is no blood test or even a concrete physical exam which can determine
if a child is ADHD/ADD. Doctors and psychologists will rely primarily on
behavior analysis as seen by educators and caregivers. Most often the
symptoms of ADHD/ADD appear between the ages of three and six years of
age but the symptoms can vary for each child.
The Elder study
suggests that a teacher's perception of a child's behavior could be
misguided. A child's seemingly inappropriate behavior could be the
result of intellectual and emotional immaturity in the younger students
of a classroom when compared to the old kids in the same grade. Elder
believes age needs to be addressed when evaluating a child and
considering a diagnosis of ADHD/ADD.
Treating ADHD/ADD With Medication When Uncertain of Diagnosis
often, the drug Ritalin (methylphenidate), is prescribed for children
who are thought to suffer from ADHD/ADD. This drug is a psychostimulant
and the long term effects are not established. The same is said for the
other ADHD/ADD medicinal treatments, especially the newer ones to
Side effects of stimulant medications include:
- decreased appetite: can lead to growth development problems and weight loss
- problems sleeping: As the medication is a stimulant, it can make sleeping difficult.
- tics: Not as common are the development of "tics," uncontrollable, repetitive movements.
- emotionlessness: Some children lose emotion and become "dull."
How to Avoid Misdiagnosing ADHD/ADD in Children
no single test will be able to determine if a child has attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder, caregivers and medical professionals
have to take many considerations into the equation when possibly
diagnosing a child with ADHD/ADD.
Certain criteria medical professionals will try to establish will be:
certain a child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD/ADD)
is something no medical professional can claim. Since there is no
definitive test to establish ADHD/ADD in children, misdiagnosis is
possible. Many parents are uncertain if their child has this disorder
and need to work with their health care professionals to establish
behavioral patterns and understanding before attempting medical
- hearing loss: Could the child be suffering from a hearing problem?
- vision problems: Does the child have good vision?
- learning disabilities: Is it possible other disabilities exist?
- anxiety or depression
changes: Has the child recently undergone any traumatic experiences
(eg. marriage, death, divorce, crime, medications etc.)?
- peer comparison: Do the symptoms appear more intense that those of peers?
- occurrence: Do the behaviors occur often and regardless of environment or only in certain settings?
Disclaimer: The information contained in this
article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for
diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health
professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should
contact a doctor for advice.
The Vancouver Sun, " One in five hyperactive kids possible misdiagnosed " (accessed September 13, 2010)
Canada.com, "One million kids in U.S. may be misdiagnosed with ADHD" (accessed September 13, 2010)
National Institute of Mental Health, "How is ADHD diagnosed?" (accessed September 13, 2010)
National Institute of Mental Health, "Medications" (accessed September 13, 2010)
Natural and Non-Addictive Treatments for ADHD and ADD:
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